India lobbying for chairmanship of Commonwealth body

New Delhi, August 27:

India is expecting the chairmanship of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) to come to it amid intense lobbying among member countries. Sources said the post of chairman

of the CPA executive committee was expected to come to India, and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee had already nominated West Bengal Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim for the post. “We expect a cakewalk for our candidate as we have been assured 200 of the total 277 votes in the CPA,” an official in the speaker’s office said. The chairmanship of the CPA executive committee would mean a lot to India. “The agenda of the CPA has so far been set by developed countries.

India securing the top post means we would be able to set the agenda and bring attention to problems that developing countries face,” the official said. The CPA’s executive meeting is to be held in Fiji from September 2 to 4, the conference will follow from September 5 to 9 and the election will be held on the concluding day. However, sources said a rival candidate — Geoffrey Henry of Cook’s Islands, the representative of the Pacific region — had not given up hope. Backed by some European countries, Cook’s Islands are organising parallel meetings in Fiji to campaign for Henry.

“They are campaigning for the unity of smaller countries. If they manage to get all the small countries behind them, we can be in trouble. Though it is quite unlikely, we do not want to take any chances,” said the official. Chatterjee has apparently been spearheading the campaign in favour of Halim since last April, when he attended the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) meet in the Philippines. “He had personally requested member countries to support him,” the official said. The CPA works to promote knowledge and understanding about parliamentary democracy, respect for the rule of law and individual rights and freedoms.